It’s your first day at your new internship, and you’re freaking out about everything that could go wrong. Will you get to the office 20 minutes late? Will you spill coffee all over your keyboard, or worse, your boss?
I was in this stressful situation four months ago, when I first started working as an editorial fellow for Washingtonian. I reacted to the pressure by sticking in my earphones and blasting some tunes.
What I discovered was that a great song could make my worries dissolve. Music could be the salve that soothed my wandering mind.
Now, as my fellowship at Washingtonian comes to a close, I want to share some of my favorite tracks from my time here. Each one has special meaning for me. Hopefully, you’ll hear something you like, too.
1. “Ivy” by Frank Ocean
During the first week of my fellowship, I almost always listened to this song on my morning commute. The lyrics are an intimate exploration of growing up and making mistakes, especially the line “I thought that I was dreaming / When you said you loved me.” It’s the kind of crooned intimacy that reminds you you’re not alone when you’re walking down a crowded DC street.
2. “Waitin’ for a Superman” by the Flaming Lips
Like most Washingtonians, I reacted to Donald Trump’s election on November 8 with a mixture of profound shock and fear. I felt like I was living in some sort of surreal dreamscape, and I was waiting for someone to rescue me. With its relatable and reassuring lyrics about holding on hope, this song helped get me through November 9.
3. “Red Eyes” by the War on Drugs
The War on Drugs was started by a pair of Bob Dylan fans, and the influence shows in this track. The song takes the Americana and folk-rock of Dylan’s Highway 61 Revisited and injects an ethereal indie-rock sensibility, pelting you with a wall of shimmering sound. When I have free time at work because my bosses have nothing for me to do, this song is the best way of killing five minutes.
4. “Space Oddity” by David Bowie
This list wouldn’t be complete without some Bowie, and this signature single helps me put things in perspective. The lyrics about outer space help me remember that the universe is huge, and that humans (including the humans in my office) are just a tiny blip in the grand scheme of things. (So what if some critics think the song is a metaphor for drug overdose?)
5. “The Big Ship” by Brian Eno
While Brian Eno is well-known for Music for Airports, I’d argue that this is music for offices. Toward the end of a long work day, I love throwing on this ambient track. With its transcendently beautiful melodies that insist on building and mingling, the song almost always gives me chills.